Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Back from the gira

February 17, 2010


Hey family!

We got back from the gira (tour of the southern part of the mission) yesterday. It was a pretty successful gira. All the zone conferences went really well, and we feel good about the teaching we did. It's a teaching that has completely changed my life. It's about planning and it works. But it makes me sad because looking at the missionaries numbers from last week, very few people put it in practice the stuff we taught. It makes me sad because now I am accomplishing SO much more with the time I have. I just love being a missionary and being even more effective with my time!


We had a good gira. There were a couple of days where I wasn't doing well. I kinda just crashed for a few days and just kinda lost it. I still worked hard and taught well, but on the inside I just felt absolutely empty. I was really struggling with it till Saturday afternoon when we arrived in Bariloche. I talked to my companion about it a little and he suggested I did a ´spiritual fast´ In this program, I was going to write down about 15 or 20 things that I was going to do or not do for 40 days. I wrote down a lot of good stuff, and I won't lie I haven't done everyone of them these past 5 days, but man I feel so much better. I had a good real fast from Saturday to Sunday, and I feel like I'm back in control now. I just completely lost it for a bit, and was just dead. Now i feel awesome, just so happy. I think for one of the first times in my life I understand what repentance is. In the dictionary in the Spanish book of Mormon, it says that it means you see yourself and God in a new light. I think that absolutely happened to me this past weekend. On Saturday, I just was so down and just weighed down by that burden, but then I worked really hard to pull myself out, to give absolutely everything to invite the spirit back into my life and to ask for forgiveness for the things I had done wrong. Then on Sunday in church, it just hit me. I had a completely different light about myself. I just felt different, like I had the spirit, like I could do anything, and like I had been forgiven. That was a sensation that I'm not sure I had ever had before. (ps, it makes it even better that on the computer right next to me they are playing the Rudy soundtrack of this big motivational orchestra. haha.) It was a great experience, and I have learned an awful lot. I am not the same person I was before the gira--I feel like I know myself a whole lot more, that I understand a whole lot more of having the gospel in my life, and the importance of giving my all always to have the spirit in my life. It was a pretty incredible turnaround, and I just feel so good now, like I felt back in Allen or something. Just purely happy and content. That's how I long to feel always.


On Saturday, we did divisions with some elders in Bariloche. One is one of my favorites in the mission. He came in with elder Cox and I've worked with him 2 or 3 times. He is just a purely good guy. Humble, hard worker, fun, easy to talk to. Just one of the top 5 missionaries in my book. His companion that he is training, however, is on the verge of giving up the mission and going home. We worked with them on Saturday and then elder Camacho worked with him on Sunday to see if we could get some animo in him. He speaks GREAT Spanish! he's a great teacher. But he just hasn't decided he wants to be here. They are going to make a final decision in a couple of hours what is going to happen. He drove back in the car with us from Bariloche to neuquen. I just hope he realizes what this work is and how much it changes lives. I've tried putting it into words what my mission has meant to me and I just cant. Mom- it reminds me a lot of something you wrote me in the MTC. It was the first or second letter you wrote, and in the last line or two you said something or other would happen if I would ´humble myself and commit to this experience.´ Working with him just brought that flying back into my mind because I realized that everything good that has happened on my mission is because I did that-- humbled myself and committed, giving everything to this experience. I just absolutely love it here.


We got to be with Doctor Peterson and his wife for the whole trip. I fell in love. They are so awesome. He has served 9 years of his life as a missionary, mission president, and twice as mission doctor. I learned so much from him. He just would always come and give me these huge hugs. We became really good friends. I had another little health interview on their last day here, but I did it just to talk to him. At the end, he just says elder it's been so good being with you! We're going to miss you! You are the kind of person that gives us hope in the future. You're the kind of person that can go into any situation and make good things happen. That's the difference between a good area and bad area in a mission- the missionaries and their attitudes. You are going to do incredible things in your life.´ Then, we took him to the airport while president finished up zone conference and I asked for his last bit of advice for me and elder Camacho. He says ´you two are incredible missionaries. You need to know you're the best. Don't let it get to your head because you have to be humble and you know that. But you are two young men with bright minds that can do anything. Anything! You can become anything you want, and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Don't let the time it takes to accomplish something take you away from it. Lots of doctors faze out because they don't want to take so long studying. Do what you want to do, and don't let anyone tell you you can't. He then talked about callings and leadership and stuff that we'd be doing after the mission. I was just so touched the entire time i was with him. He is an incredible man, and I want to be like that when I'm older!


We got back yesterday and set out right away to work. It started pouring rain, and that is always a blast! I love it. Me and elder Camacho are such good buds now. We just kinda walk around and accidently bump each other into puddles and stuff. I love working with him, he's so much fun. But we went over to the sepulveda´s house, the ones who we found and have come to church 2 Sundays in a row now. We put a fecha with them for the 6th of March. Only three of the kids were there, but that was okay because they were the three that were most interested and didn't have to do any marriage or divorce papers or anything. They were just so happy and excited for it!! wahoo!!!!


Well, other than that, I'm out. My hands are tired from typing so fast. and we get a full p-day today!! wahoo! I need a good nap and to write letters. It's been a long time.


Take care! I love you! Thanks for writing me and supporting me!



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On the road again...

February 8, 2010


Hey family!

It's kinda a stressful morning—we are leaving on the gira in a little while. We have our laundry being washed right now, are taking stats from last week, and still have to pack and buy food for the gira. Hopefully we can get it all done quick so that we can leave on time!

This past week has been a heck of a week. We had zone conferences Tuesday through Friday, then divisions on Saturday. The zone conferences are probably my favorite yet—me and elder Camacho do a workshop on planning, and it is one of my absolute favorite workshops I've seen or done on my mission. A lot of times with the workshops, we do little practices, like doing contacts or teaching or something like that that is kinda hypothetical and the missionaries don't always take it too seriously. This transfer, we knew we had to talk a lot about planning, and I really feel like we were inspired with the practices that we have done because each of the three is something specific to the area of the elders, and none of it is hypothetical—all of it is real and applies immediately to their area. Elder Bowen gave us a pretty big chat about what we had to do, and know we are showing the mission how to get it done. We now have to do at least 325 contacts per week, and that swooned a lot of the mission. But now in our workshop, we are showing them how to plan in a way that makes it impossible to get that number. I really have felt like this workshop was inspired, and it has helped me so much in accomplishing all the things that I should be doing.

This week, I have had almost no time to work. Normally we have about 58 hours during the week to work. I always have less than that, but now with zone conferences, it's been even less. I think I had 25.5 hours to work this week, between traveling and zone conferences. And you know what? I had a great week—I taught 4 with members, 12 others, found 10 new, and did 325 contacts. I give it all to planning and walking real fast! If only I had been planning like I am now earlier in my mission!! I've got this thing in me that I have to get the standard of contacts every week. I know I've talked about this before, but I've still got that in me that no matter what I have to get there. This week it got bumped from 154 to 325. Looking at the hours I was going to be able to work I was terrified that I wasn't going to be able to get it. But, I think I would have melted or something if I didn't get that done. So, I found ways to get out and work that I hadn't used before. We are with the area doctor in zone conferences, and he takes about 45 minutes to do a presentation. So in NQN 1 I left with elder Cox for 20 minutes during lunch to do contacts, and we got 18 real quick. In Roca, I couldn't escape because it was a catered lunch by some members, but in NQN 2 I asked president if we could sneak out during the doctor's presentation and he said that was okay, so me and elder Camacho went out and did about 25 contacts during that presentation. We did the same in Zapala, doing about 34 during his presentation and lunch. Then this weekend, I did 155 in two days to get there to 325. I am convinced that the success I've had on my mission comes from that dedication to getting the goal and to talking to everyone. It is so hard; I worked really hard this week. It just made me take advantage of every possible moment to get it done. Now, going on the Gira, I am not sure how we are going to get it done, but I'm going to give it everything I've got. 325 is a ton of contacts, but I've got to just find a way to do it. Sometimes I dream about the day when I'm not AP anymore and what I'm going to be able to do. I think one week before I'm done I want to do like 700 or 800 contacts in a week! That'd be cool.  I feel like I've learned a ton being herein the office and am excited to go and do it in an area.

We had a miracle happen this week. We talked to a guy for a half hour last Sunday and set up a cita for last Monday. We went over and there were 9 people there—this guy and his wife, who both are members inactivos, and their 5 kids, grandma, and grand daughter. It was incredible, and I learned a great lesson with them. We testified so much during that lesson and talked a lot about the blessings of the message we share. It was touching seeing their reactions. The mom was crying during the lesson, and 3 of the kids were just soaking it all up what we said. We taught them on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and last night. They came to church and loved it. It was great seeing the man and his wife come back and be able to participate again—he loved it. He almost ran up to give his testimony, and it was a very tender testimony he gave as he talked about how whenever he's needed help and prayed for help the missionaries have knocked on his door or stopped him in the street. I wanted to smack him and say ´then why do you keep falling?!´  But it was a very tender testimony. We are going to baptize a couple of them this week—they have got some pretty hefty problems to come over. I don't think that the whole family will be ready for this transfer—there are some that are going to take some time to fix some things, but there are a couple that could easily get baptized this transfer. I am so happy—this is the first time I've felt that tingly feeling that I'm going to baptize in this area. We went over last night and left them a calendar of readings to do this week while we are gone. Of course we had fun with it and put a picture of us on it so they don't miss us and everything. They are just so good. I feel really blessed to have found them.  They all came to church yesterday and just loved it, all except their 15 year old son, but that's alright. He'll come around.

I'm excited to go out on this gira—we are going to see some good things. Our mission is in a point where we are struggling a bit to have the desire to do this stuff elder Bowen taught. Everyone knows its possible, it just comes down to working real hard. I just feel great working hard. A couple of weeks ago, I just had zero desires to go and work. It was a hard stretch, but im glad to be out of it and wanting to work again. I don't know why you go through ups and downs as missionaries, but it happens. I just like being the happy smiley hard working missionary.

Its really fun being with Dr Peterson He is an incredible man—he was a missionary in Uruguay, mission president in Mexico, mission doctor in Guatemala, Pocatello, and here. He was a stake patriarch Spanish speaking for 14 stakes in Idaho. He is a really incredible man and I'm looking forward to taking this trip with him. He was the mission doctor for El Salvador and knows the Jones's too! Small world.  Mom—I had a good chat with him about my stomach. We talked a lot about irritable bowel syndrome and everything, and all the pains and aches and runs come from that. It's gotten worse recently (and this is what I thought) just because of the added stress I have now as AP. There isn't too too much I can do to avoid it. He gave me a fun little sheet of yoga stuff I can do to relax, and said just keep taking the drugs you take. I never really feel stressed, but I know on the inside I have it. It's just the way my body reacts to it I guess. I'll probably chat with him another time about it before the gira ends. I have noticed though that I can't eat potatoes anymore! I ate those everyday for a while, and now every time I eat them I just get killed. But I'm going to make It through. Don't worry—just keep praying!

Tell Stella I say hey and good luck and to enjoy every moment. Tell Janice thanks for that story—that's kinda how I feel about Santiago, and tell everyone else I love them!!




Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Taylor's letter

February 1, 2010


Hey family

It's been another crazy week 1. I think "week 1's"are the busiest weeks of my life. I think for one of the first times in my life I felt really stressed out this week. I am taking advantage of a little nap after writing this email—its tough when I only have 3 hours on p-day to get everything done I want to!! But we have zone conferences starting tomorrow, and we had to meet with president to get all of that stuff worked out and ready to go tomorrow.

We got some really good missionaries again. I am convinced that the Lord has sent us 3 really really good groups these past three transfers because we need them to put in practice this new stuff Elder Bowen has taught us.  We are struggling to get the mission the faith it needs to keep going on those things. We have seen some pretty incredible changes in some, and just hope we can keep spreading the animo. There is a touch of a sense of frustration or desanimo in the mission because this new energy is a lot of work, and we were very comfortable where we were at. Now we all know what we can get, and some aren't too happy to leave that comfort zone, but they feel bad not leaving it because they know they can and should leave it. It's interesting to see.

We´ve already done a good amount of divisions—I did half of Thursday and all of Friday here with Elder Price, a new zone leader this transfer. It was good—we did some good things and worked really hard. On Saturday, I was still in my area with another new zone leader, Elder Diaz. We had a good day. I think the highlight of our day was at about 6 o'clock. We were just dying of heat and weren't really finding anyone, so we swung by a recent convert's house. He is about 74 years old and just gentle and so fun. He's kinda slow but I just love him to death.  His wife lets us in and we go in. he comes out of the bedroom and says ´what would you like to do?´ I took that to mean he wanted to leave with us, but knowing our plans I didn't really know if he could walk and keep up with us, so I said ´well, we wanted to come here and share with you!´ ´yeah, but what do you want to do?´ ´when?¨  ´after¨  ´well, we've got a couple of people to go visit´ Perfect! I'll come with you!¨ It was great—I was nervous at first, but out we went.  Our first cita was with Mercedes, Daniel (our recent convert)´s mom. We went in and taught. And Santiago (the older man accompanying us) chimed in a couple times and it was just so incredibly on point and exactly what needed to be said. I kinda just sat there in amazement, because he has such a strong testimony and good way to express himself that I had never seen before. As I listened, it was almost an exact mix of grandpa Walters and Paul Bang. Just a voice full of love and right on point with what the spirit wanted them to say. It was a really sweet experience. Mercedes said the prayer and cried as she asked for strength to go to church and to keep getting better. It was a very spiritual experience for me.

We then took him over to another investigator, Jorge, who has been going to church for about a year but hasn't gotten baptized. I heard the same voice come out of Santiago—and it just connected with Jorge. He didn't commit to being baptized yet, but I just feel like we are making a little bit of progress. Well see if he can keep progressing.

We are starting with zone conferences here in Neuquen tomorrow. We have Roca and Zapala this week too. Then next Monday we are leaving to do an 8 day gira. I'm glad its going to be a short one---I want some more time in my area! I feel bad because two of the office elders were working really hard in the area we now have but we just have been struggling to sustain the progress they made. But, we've got a couple of member references that are just awesome and ready to get baptized. We've put the meta of 3 baptisms for this transfer, which is really high for the office (they baptized just 2 all last year), so we are trying to help these people progress quickly

Thanks for sharing about stake conference—that was quite the adventure! I am really glad that we have the spirit that helps us save ourselves when the plans we had made fall through. I have seen it over and over on the mission, and I know that you received some of that help back home.

WOW!!! Lehla is going to MONGOLIA?? Whoa! I heard they have to take tents there. And I thought bringing a sleeping bag was cool. Congrats—she's going to love it.

Thanks for being such good parents! I think you are the best. (and going to be mission presidents some day).